After the riots in Saxony, people in Berlin are also taking to the streets against racist agitation. More than expected.
Despite rain, thousands came to the demo through Neukolln Photo: Jonathan Auer
Many Berliners feel the need to make a statement against the right-wing agitation in Chemnitz. A demonstration in Neukolln, which was originally registered with 100 participants, was attended by more than 5,000 people on Thursday evening, according to police; participants reported 8,000 to 10,000 demonstrators. And also on Friday, hundreds gathered in the afternoon under the slogan "Stop the mob!" in front of the State Representation of Saxony in Mitte.
Hermannplatz, the start of the Neukolln demonstration, was packed on Thursday evening. According to the police, a private person had announced the march, groups such as the Berlin Alliance Against the Right and others had mobilized – with success. Someone held a sign from the crowd, "1933 or today, Nazis want no good, people," it said. Other placards read: "When injustice becomes right, resistance becomes a duty" and "Nazis more annoying than Berlin weather".
In fact, it rained during the demonstration. The fact that so many people joined in despite this was a "positive signal," said one participant afterwards. Not only representatives of Antifa had come, but also many "normal people", as he called them. Others described the audience as "colorful" and "left-liberal." The route led along Sonnenallee and Erkstrabe. According to participants, people waved from balconies and hung rainbow and sea bridge flags from windows. At the Neukolln City Hall, where the demo ended, there was also dancing.
250 police officers were on duty in Neukolln, a police spokeswoman said on Friday. They had expected more than 100 participants and had ordered additional forces accordingly. The demonstration was "completely free of disturbances," the spokeswoman stressed. "There was only one misdemeanor for urinating in public."
On Friday, governing mayor Michael Muller (SPD) also apparently felt the need to comment on the riots in Chemnitz. "We will not let our democracy and our constitutional state be destroyed," said Muller, who is also currently president of the Bundesrat. "There must be an end to looking the other way, to nobly holding back." Every criminal act, especially when it comes to anti-constitutional and Nazi symbols, must be punished, he said. Muller said that "a small minority must not be allowed to destroy what we have built up together over decades. A liberal, open-minded and also therefore successful society."
A police spokeswoman
"There was only one misdemeanor for urinating".
Rally in front of the Saxon state representation
On Friday afternoon, the next rally against the right-wing agitation already took place: In front of the Saxon state representation in Bruderstrabe in Berlin-Mitte, older women stood with signs reading "Grannies against the Right" and "Nazis out! We can do it!", other participants demanded the "Saxit" and "Serve the majority – not the mob!!!". At the same time, demonstrators asked "Don’t give up Saxony." Around 1,000 people came.
Dirk Ludigs had registered the rally and vigil. In his opening speech, he emphasized that the protest action was directed against the state government of Saxony and in no way against the Saxons. A minute of silence was held for the victims of violence in Saxony – regardless of nation and skin color. Speakers from various organizations that had called for the protest took the floor, including the initiative "indivisible", which advocates democratic action, and "Lesbians against the Right".
The organizers presented representatives of the Saxon state government with their petition "Saxony: Stop the Mob!" in which they call for decisive action by the Saxon government against right-wing extremist violence. 36,000 signatures had been collected in 72 hours. A spokesman for the government of Saxony assured that he could sign every sentence of the petition himself and would pass it on.
At the end, singer Lili Sommerfeld performed the song "Non of us are free". She told the taz that the incidents in Chemnitz had affected her. "In 1933, my grandpa was chased out of school in Chemnitz because he was Jewish. And my great-grandfather was deported from there." As a Jew, she has never had any problems, but it scares her how broadly the Nazis are positioned today.